Tag Archive: David Aja


Review by C.J. Bunce

The first two episodes–a full third of the series–have arrived for Marvel’s fourth live-action series of the year on the Disney+ streaming platform and it’s a good start, already faring better than those prior series.  Hawkeye is about Jeremy Renner’s unassuming superhero Clint Barton aka Hawkeye from the Avengers movies–and yet it isn’t.  Although the first episode gets off to a slow start, it’s Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, who replaces Hawkeye in the comics, who proves quickly she’s going to be an exciting fixture for the next iteration of the Avengers line-up.  She’s in good company, joining Black Widow’s Florence Pugh’s new Black Widow to take the franchise forward, along with Natalie Portman as new Thor in next year’s movie Thor: Love and Thunder, and Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk in next year’s series She-Hulk. 

Hawkeye is billed as a holiday show and it is, but it falls short in that department, probably because Marvel/Disney didn’t use a key arrow in its quiver: the creator of your second favorite Christmas movie.

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Hawkeye Kate

After Jeremy Renner’s good guy Clint Barton was converted to bad guy in the 2012 MCU Avengers movie, it seemed like there was nowhere for the character to go but down.  Already merely a Green Arrow knockoff (who, in turn, was inspired by Robin Hood), the least interesting Avenger ultimately was relegated to lawless, one-note assassin status by the Endgame finale.  That was the Avenger on the big screen.  What the movie studio missed and is at last catching up to is what was happening in the comics pages while Avengers was in theaters.  Enter writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, who tapped some of the better elements from DC Comics’ Green Arrow comic book series and suddenly Hawkeye became interesting in the comics.

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But what would become a multiple Eisner-winning comic wasn’t just about Clint Barton.  The next Disney+ Marvel series is coming this Christmas, and it’s bringing the even better character from Fraction and Aja’s comic book series forward, revealed in a first preview that looks like we may finally get a Disney+ Marvel series as good as the Marvel movies.  They even got the logo and Matt Hollingsworth’s color scheme right.  Check out the first trailer for Hawkeye below.

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Star Wars issue 15 Jason Aaron Mike Mayhew

Congratulations to our friend Jason Aaron for winning this year’s Eisner Award for Best Writing, as well as the other winners, announced in a presentation hosted by actor John Barrowman Friday night at San Diego Comic-Con.  Aaron’s Southern Bastards also win for Best Continuing Series.

Here’s the full slate of this year’s Eisner winners:

Best Writer — Jason Aaron, for Southern Bastards, Men of Wrath, Doctor Strange, Star Wars, Thor.

Best Writer/Artist — Bill Griffith for Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist.

Best Cover Artist — David Aja.

Best Short Story — “Killing and Dying,” by Adrian Tomine, in Optic Nerve #14.

Best Lettering — Derf Backderf, for Trashed.

David Aja cover

Best Coloring — Jordie Bellaire, The Autumnlands, Injection, Plutona, Pretty Deadly, The Surface, They’re Not Like Us, Zero, The X-Files, The Massive, Magneto, and Vision.

Best Digital/Webcomic — Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover.

Best Penciller  — Cliff Chiang, for Paper Girls.

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist — Dustin Nguyen, for Descender.

Best Publication Design — DC Comics’ Sandman Gallery Edition, designed by Josh Beatman.

Bill Finger Award for Comic Book Writing — Elliot Maggin.

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SCARLET-WITCH-#1

Last week saw the release of the first issue of Marvel Comics’ latest monthly Scarlet Witch.  The series is written by James Robinson with artwork by Vanesa Del Rey with colors by Jordie Bellaire.  Award winning Hawkeye cover artist David Aja provides the cover to the first issue, plus variant covers are available from Kevin Wada, Bill Sienkiewicz, Erica Henderson, Tom Raney, and Chris Sotomayor.  It’s not only David Aja’s cover, but Robinson’s well-paced introduction and Del Rey and Bellaire’s visuals that remind us of Matt Fraction and Aja’s successful Hawkeye series, another series about a secondary character and a life outside the scope of saving the world with the Avengers.

The new Scarlet Witch has a ghostly quality, and a style similar to DC Comics’s initial New 52 stories of Batwoman from J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman.  It’s introspective look at a superheroine with a past also echoes Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s brilliant Black Widow series.

Scarlet Witch interior page

But this is a distinctly different story about a much different character.  She is not a young heroine.  She is a witch who speaks aloud with the ghost of Agatha, a dead woman she may or may not have killed in her past.  Scarlet Witch–Wanda Maximoff–is a detective of sorts in the same way as Liv Moore uses her supernatural skills to solve crimes in iZombie.

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Hawkeye issue 11

The 2014 Eisner Award nominations were released today.  Not a lot of surprises again this year.  The nominations tend toward more serious subjects in the year’s comic book offerings as opposed to action-packed superhero titles, sci-fi, fantasy, humor, or popular works.  But there are exceptions, and some can be found this year.  And should you think the books reviewed and lauded here at borg.com might be out of touch with the Eisner nomination committee, actually some of our favorite books from 2013 can be found throughout this year’s nominees.

The ringer of course is Marvel Comics’ Hawkeye series.  Not only do we like it, everyone seems to agree this is the best book around, two years running.  And it’s up for multiple awards again this year.

But no Afterlife With Archie?  Where are all the Dynamite Comics nominees?  Where is recognition for the jaw-dropping visuals on Dark Horse Comics’ landmark series, The Star Wars?  Why not more from IDW and Dark Horse?  How about some variety?

So… congratulations to all the nominees, and extra snaps to some of our favorites (the full nomination list is after the break):

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Hawkeye #11: “Pizza Is My Business,” by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel).  This made the borg.com Best of 2013 for Best Single Issue.  I even bought extra copies of this one.  It’s that good.

Best Continuing Series
Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)

I read books this year from other nominations in this category: Saga, East of West, and Nowhere Men (we weren’t fans, but reviewed Issue #1 here), and the others just didn’t make our review list.

Black Beetle poster

Best Limited Series
The Black Beetle: No Way Out, by Francesco Francavilla (Dark Horse).

We reviewed this series here at borg.com this year and decided it should have made our Best of 2013 list had we reviewed it earlier.

I also read nominee Mike Richardson’s 47 Ronin–a good read, which I may review here later this year.  I had a review copy of The Wake from DC Comics, but didn’t find the story or art as gripping as others.

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)
Itty Bitty Hellboy, by Art Baltazar and Franco (Dark Horse).  Reviewed here, I’m glad this wasn’t passed up for consideration.

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Miss Fury Dynamite Comics

We tried on for size almost every new book that was released from comic book publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, Archaia/BOOM!, and Image.  We tried to sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics had to offer, too, and although we didn’t have enough time to review everything we did try to put out there for your consideration those titles we thought our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro bent.  Our pull list included issues from Afterlife with Archie to Django Unchained, from Liberator to Larfleezeand from Velvet to The X-Files.  This past month we have reviewed the year-long run of the best of these titles, as we narrowed our selections to 21 of the very best entries in genre entertainment outside of TV and movies, which we revealed here yesterday.  So here are the rest of our picks for the Best of 2013.

Kane Starkiller borg by Mike Mayhew

Best Borg Appearance — Kane Starkiller, The Star Wars.  Borgs showed up everywhere this year, from the lead characters on Almost Human, to Doctor Who, to countless comic book series including Justice League and RoboCop.  Our favorite appearance came from the young mind of George Lucas as he created the original script that would later be edited into the original Star Wars trilogy.  And through Dark Horse Comics’ The Star Wars monthly comic book event we learned one of his best ideas was merged into other roles and one of his best characters entirely cut.   That character was Jedi Kane Starkiller, who would reveal his cyborg chest implants that kept him alive, later to heroically give up this life-saving technology to save his friends.

MissFury001-Cov-Renaud

Best Comic Book Series — Miss Fury, Dynamite Comics.  A uniquely crafted tale, a compelling and seductive superhero, great action panel after panel, sourced in a long-shelved classic character of the Golden Age of comics.  Rob Williams and Jack Herbert’s Miss Fury is a carefully rendered update that rings true to the edgy spirit of the world’s first female superhero.  Beautiful panels set up an ever-changing time and place and pull readers along for the ride.  And stuck-out-of-time Marla Drake and her alter ego Miss Fury could not have looked better, whether carving out her place in the 1940s or as she was teleported into the future.  It’s a series no one should miss.

Clint Barton Hawkeye by Fraction

Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Fraction, Hawkeye.  Last year revealed one of the best comic book series we ever read, focusing on that “other” superhero archer, the second tier Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye.  Matt Fraction gave us the most interesting set-up and look into the daily life of a superhero who isn’t Captain America or Iron Man.  This year he kept up the momentum in his Hawkeye monthly series, providing stories that challenged readers, each issue taking a different peek into Clint Barton, another costumed superhero called Hawkeye, and their trusty dog.

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Hawkeye cover art

From its “bad romance”-themed Issue #8 in February through an issue featuring the other Hawkeye Kate Bishop in Los Angeles in its most recent Issue #14, Marvel Comics’ monthly Hawkeye series has kept up its unique brand of high-quality storytelling all year.  With its visuals led by David Aja for most of the year, other artists have stepped in to backstop Aja, including none other than another Eisner winner artist, Francisco Francavilla.  But the continuity and consistency of Avenger Clint Barton and his friends is thanks to the writing of Matt Fraction, who, like J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman and their Batwoman series, took a lower tier superhero and produced the best monthly series in its publisher’s line-up.

Each issue managed to maintain a slow, downward spiral of its hero as a self-deprecating lost soul who is only understood by a dog who is then taken across the country by his friend Kate.  In one issue (Issue #12) his brother Barney “Trickshot” Barton takes over the entire story and we barely see Waverly, Iowa born Clint Barton.  Rarely do we see typical superhero action, like Hawkeye donning his supersuit or showing his skill with bow and arrow.  When we do see it, its via West Coast Avenger Kate Bishop.  Clint is virtually absent from Issue #14, as Kate, with Lucky in tow, matches wits with a strange but beautiful masked villain.

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One issue (Issue #13) focused on the somber events surrounding the funeral of neighbor “Grills,” the guy who grilled on the roof for tenants of his building and referred to Clint as Hawkguy.  In that issue girlfriend Jessica Drew, the Spider-woman, tries to mend fences with Clint in the car procession, only to see afterward that he had fallen asleep during her entire compelling monologue.  It’s a scene that defined this year for Hawkeye–everything that could go wrong, did, and every time he was close to getting a break he missed it.  Yet readers are sucked in, and stick around to cheer on this everyman and his daily efforts to get back on track in a world where he isn’t the main superhero around.

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hawkeye-fraction-aja-hollingsworth-2

The winners of the 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced at a gala ceremony held during Comic-Con International: San Diego, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, on Friday, July 19.  We’re particularly happy with the choice of David Aja’s Hawkeye, one of borg.com’s favorite series of 2012 and Dark Horse Presents, the source of some of the best stories last year, as best anthology series.  We also liked the judge’s selection of Dave Stewart for colorist, who had such incredible work last year on several books including the Batwoman series.

Here are this year’s winners:

Best Graphic Album—Reprint

“King City,” by Brandon Graham (TokyoPop/Image)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips

“Pogo, Vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash,” by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books

“David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition,” edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

“Blacksad: Silent Hell,” by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia

“Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys,” by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)

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Hawkeye-11-cover

If you want to understand why Marvel Comic’s Hawkeye series is up for five Eisners next month–for Best New Series, Best Continuing Series, Best Writer, Best Cover Artist, Best Penciller/Inker (and could easily win them all)–all you need do is ask your comic book store to get you a copy of Hawkeye Issue #11, which hit the shelves last Wednesday.

Matt Fraction has delivered what I had been after for some time–when writers like Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns get endless acclaim and you never quite get that one issue that solves for you why they have such a great following–Fraction’s Hawkeye series has cemented his status for me as a top comic book writer.  We at borg.com also loved David Aja’s cover art for the Hawkeye series last year, declaring him our runner-up for Best of 2012 for comic book cover art.  Together Fraction and Aja gel together to make what we’ll look back on years from now as a classic Marvel Comics creative team.  Matt Hollingsworth’s color art rendering plays an integral role in the series, too, highlighting Aja’s panels just where it is needed.  Their Hawkeye series is subtle, slow-paced, beautiful, and thought-provoking.

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